WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Putting Consumers First? A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
Today, this Committee convenes for a hearing on the Semiannual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Testifying today before the Committee for the first time is the Consumer Bureau’s new Director, Kathy Kraninger.
The Consumer Bureau is the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Congress passed after the financial crisis to provide America’s consumers with a watchdog that would swiftly and effectively crack down on unscrupulous financial practices, products, and actors. Under the leadership of former Director Richard Cordray, the Consumer Bureau was a tremendous success, returning nearly $12 billion to over 30 million consumers who were harmed, handling over 1.2 million consumer complaints about financial institutions, and making the financial marketplace stronger and fairer for all Americans.
Because of the Consumer Bureau, American consumers no longer must worry about exploding mortgages, hidden prepaid card fees, or unnecessary foreclosures due to weak servicing standards. The Consumer Bureau has also helped to take the confusing jargon out of consumer lending by requiring clearer disclosures from financial institutions and providing consumers with easy-to-understand materials to empower them to make the best decisions.
However, despite these successes, Congressional Republicans have done everything they can to stymie the Consumer Bureau’s good work, and the Trump Administration has undertaken a sustained effort to destroy the agency. I am deeply concerned about the damage that they have done.
During his tenure running the Consumer Bureau, Mick Mulvaney— who is currently Trump’s acting Chief of Staff—took many actions that hurt consumers.
Mulvaney closed the Office of Young Consumers, stripped the Office of Fair Lending of its ability to enforce fair lending laws, cozied up to payday lenders, gave lenders a free pass to abuse active-duty servicemembers and their families, and fired the Consumer Bureau’s consumer advisory board. His mission was to dismantle the agency from within and he leaves behind no less than 12 political appointees who are continuing to cause damage.
I am disappointed Mr. Mulvaney declined to respond to our invitation to testify here today. This Committee still has serious questions for him, so I’m expecting our new Director, Director Kraninger, to answer for him.
As Chairwoman of this Committee, I am committed to reversing the damage that Mulvaney caused, and ensuring that the Consumer Bureau can resume its important work. That is why I have reintroduced my bill, H.R. 1500, the Consumers First Act, which restores the agency’s supervisory and enforcement powers and provides the transparency and accountability needed for the agency to carry out its important mission. This Committee will not tolerate the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer actions, and we will act to ensure that the Consumer Bureau is fully empowered to protect consumers.
So, I look forward to Director Kraninger’s report on the Consumer Bureau’s activities, and to discussing the agency’s recent harmful proposal to undermine its payday rule and the loss of more than 10% of agency’s staff, among many other important issues.
I also look forward to the second panel’s testimony on how Congress can help ensure the Consumer Bureau is putting consumers first.
The Chair now recognizes the Ranking Member of the Committee, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McHenry, for 4 minutes for an opening statement.